Mike Karbowski, Founder, Body Work & Paint
Mike Karbowski, the elder in our Dream Team, grew up in a family of car enthusiasts in Niagara Falls, New York. His older cousin was heavily into street drag races. His father owned taxis that sometimes got banged up in accidents. Mike started doing the body work repairs and discovered he liked it much more than being a mechanic.
By 1969, Mike had a great reputation for doing quality work; he was only 19. After graduating from high school, he opened his own business in an old Sunoco gas station and offered car repair, restoration and hot rod services. He worked on a lot of Corvettes.
In 2003, Mike and his family moved to Atlanta and have loved every minute of their new home in the south. “The car shows are huge here,” he said. “The hot rod industry has gotten so big that there is now an abundance of available, ready-made parts.”
“Even after 40 years in the car restoration business,” Mike explained, I’m still having fun. This has always been my dream job, because I enjoy every single project. Each car has a unique story. The kick for me is seeing the final results of my work and the surprise and joy on my customers’ faces. That’s what it’s all about.”
Mike’s Favorite Restorations
- In 1970 a 1958 Corvette for $500.00 was a “Lucky Find”. I found this rough example of a classic Vette in the rear of an old filling station. After de- chroming and a thorough sanding of the existing paint finish I primed, blocked and refinished my now beautiful vintage Corvette in fire mist brown lacquer. I then buffed it to a slick, shiny ride. Now I had my feet wet and was permanently hooked on Corvettes. Next came a 1963 Corvette roadster. My cousin and I dragged this one from a field and I began the tedious process of stripping off the old paint finish without softening the fragile fiberglass. This Vette needed extensive resin work and of course along with that considerable bondo shaping. The body came out looking sharp and crisp with more distinctive body lines and panel gaps than the factory build accounts for. This Corvette led to many more over the years, my own and of course numerous customers. To this day I personally receive the biggest kick and satisfaction of shaping up the body of a classic Corvette.
- Bob Thayler’s 1940 Chevy
This was a real rough car that needed a frame-up restoration. There was a large amount of metal missing so we decided to weld the fenders directly to the body – molding them to achieve a smooth hot rod look. We chopped the top which made it look sleek and sinister, almost cartoonish. Refinished in Candy Apple Red, it made for a beautiful car!